Auto Detailers, Mobile Car Washers and Fleet Truck Cleaners, Be Wise With Pressure Washers

In the summer and fall of 2012 there were numerous recalls for many very popular vehicles. It appeared that the electric window openers on both the driver’s and passenger sides of vehicles were catching on fire and shorting out when water got inside the doors due to poor weather stripping which had deteriorated over time. The water would get on the hot electric motor, short it out after use, and it would catch on fire, an electrical fire. Many cars had burned to the ground, and now the federal safety regulators got involved and there were consumer class-action lawsuits.

The carmakers had no choice but to recall these vehicles to put in new weather stripping and special covers over these electrical motors to prevent this from happening. In some regards it was good for the automobile dealerships because when those cars which needed the upgrade from the recall notice came in the customers had to wait for them to be repaired. Therefore they went into the dealership showroom, and many of them had decided to purchase a new vehicle. Well, that’s typically how recalls happen, and they aren’t always bad for these auto dealerships, or the automakers.

Now then, if you run an auto detailing company or a mobile car washing business and you use a pressure washer you could find yourself getting water underneath those same seals and that same weather stripping causing a fire. It’s much like forced rain only it is under a lot more pressure. Have there been instances were auto detailers or mobile car washing companies have caused fires? Of course, and consider this. If someone drives a vehicle into a car wash, or drives up to a mobile car washer and rolls up all the windows, they had just used that motor and gotten it hot.

If the key is still in the ignition and any accessories are on there is energy in the system, and if the motor is still hot then could start a fire once the water gets on it by shorting it out and causing a spark. This is something that every operator needs to be cognizant of. Even fixed site truck washes, or automatic tunnel truck washes that clean the municipal fleets. Trust me when I tell you that the manufacturers of over-the-road trucks and delivery vehicles are well aware of this, and they are going out of their way using the latest and greatest technology and materials to make them seal properly.

The challenge is when the seals are stronger it takes a bigger motor to push the glass through the weather stripping, putting more stress on the window motors, which could over time exacerbate the problem. As a mobile service operator in the washing and cleaning, or detailing industry you need to know this, and make sure your employees understand the serious consequences of fires in vehicles. Please consider all this and think on it.